Stranger than Fiction

Once you see the rest of the film, the uninterrupted first 15 minutes or so of footage tediously (painfully at times) panning through the lonely ruins of an abandoned silk factory in the South of France begins to make more sense. It seems it’s just filmmaker Sophie Fiennes’ way of setting the viewer’s barometer for the eccentric antics of German artist Anselm Kiefer in Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow.

The film chronicles Kiefer’s fascinating creative process, and not really anything more. We watch as he smashes huge panes of glass for the sake of his art, and then, wearing flip flops, sweeps the shards into piles around his sculptures. Or bulldozes dozens of underground tunnels to network between the property’s 35 hectares. Or painstakingly melts down solid lead with a blow torch to watch the liquid trickle down the side of a dirt mound taller than he is.

In the end, the viewer still may not be exactly sure what Mr. Kiefer is all about, but I certainly don’t consider that a bad thing (or maybe even possible). Reviews have called the film things like “hypnotic,” “a meditation.” I’d tend to agree.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow screens for a second time at SFF on Friday, April 15 at 2pm.

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